Digital Abuse: Social Networking Safety

LOveIsFebruary is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

Love is Respect continue to educate teens, parents and communities on dating violence.  We live in a world of technology where today it’s not only about physical and verbal abuse, people are suffering with digital abuse.

What is digital abuse?

You deserve to be in a safe and healthy relationship, both in person or online. If your partner is digitally abusive, know their behavior is not acceptable and could be illegal. Check out our tips below for staying safe on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and others.

  • Only post things you want the public to see or know. Once it’s online, it’s no longer under your control.
  • Be protective of your personal information. Your phone numbers and addresses enable people to contact you directly, and things like your birth date, the schools you attended, your employer and photos with landmarks may make it easier for someone to find where you live, hang out or go to school.
  • Set boundaries and limits. Tell people not to post personal information, negative comments or check-ins about you on social media. Ask people not to post or tag pictures if you’re not comfortable with it.
  • You can keep your passwords private — sharing passwords is not a requirement of being in a relationship.
  • Don’t do or say anything online you wouldn’t in person. It may seem easier to express yourself when you are not face-to-face, but online communication can have real-life negative consequences.

Learn more – visit www.loveisrespect.org

Problem Teens: Residential Therapy and Making that Difficult Decision

Seeking residential help can be daunting online.

Seeking residential help can be daunting online.

Summer is here and some parents will be considering summer camps while others are in the midst of hoping their teenager passed the school year, or had enough credits to graduate. If you are the parent of a teen who is struggling with school and acting out, it can drive you to your wit’s end.

Maybe your once fun-loving teenager who is good looking, intelligent, and has lots of good friends is now talking back to you, staying out late or sneaking out, defiant, and possibly sexually active? On the flip side, your once sweet child might be a teenage misfit who is acting out because of bullying, or is experimenting with sex, drugs, and/or alcohol in a desperate attempt to find acceptance.

What happens when you have a teenager that decides they don’t want to finish high school when they are more than capable? Perhaps they were consistently getting excellent grades and now they are just getting by or failing completely.  From an overachiever to an underachiever.  Or you have the teen that used to be a great athlete, was a popular kid in school–suddenly your child has become withdrawn and is hanging with a group of new peers that are less than desirable.

Is this typical teen behavior?

Possible, but how do you know when it is and when you need to intervene?

As the school year is coming to an end, it is a good time for parents to evaluate where their teen is at both emotionally and academically–especially if they are in High School. These are your final years to make a significant difference in their lives, and get them on a positive road towards their futures. When a child is crying out for help by using illegal substances,  running away, flunking in school, becoming secretive, possibly affiliating with a gang, or displaying other negative behavior it is a parent’s responsibility to get involved, as painful as that is, and seek treatment.

When adolescents reach the point of rebelliousness, many parents will try therapy, and this is a good place to start. But the success of local treatment will depend on the child and how far their behavior has escalated. Unfortunately many parents I have spoken to have reported that the one-hour session once a week–or even twice a week–rarely makes a difference in their teen’s behavior. For many parents there comes a time when residential therapy is taken under serious consideration–especially if drugs and/or alcohol are an issue. It is important to seek outside help, and removing a teen from their environment can be critical in getting them the help they need to heal. This is particularly true when a teen needs to be separated from undesirable peers that are instigating or perpetuating their negative behavior.

Though the majority of teens are unwilling to attend residential treatment, most of them are professionally transported by experts in the field. Parents spend a lot of time and stress about this part of the decision, but hiring a professional in this field can lessen the worries. They are trained to work with at-risk youth and will ask you all about your child before they arrive. In speaking with many parents and teens that have successfully used transports, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.

At the end of the day, your teen truly wants to feel good about themselves again, too. They want to be that happy child that you remember. Remember, they were once that a good kid, and they can become that good person again.  Being a teenager isn’t easy, and parenting that child when you have reached your wit’s end is a challenge. Knowing you are not alone helps!

Take away tips for parents:

When seeking residential treatment, I always encourage parents to look for three key components that I call the ACE factor:

  • Accredited Academics (Ask to see their accreditation): Education is important, some programs actually don’t offer it.
  • Clinical (Credentialed therapists on staff): Please note–on staff.
  • Enrichment Programs (Animal assisted programs, culinary, fine arts, sports etc): Enrichment Programs are crucial to your child’s program. They will help build self-esteem and stimulate them in a positive direction. Find a program with something your teen is passionate about or used to be passionate prior their path in a negative direction.

I also encourage parents to avoid three red flags:

  • Marketing arms and sales reps (All those toll-free numbers, be careful of who you are really speaking to and what is in the best interest of your child.)
  • Short term programs (Wilderness programs or otherwise, rarely is there a quick fix. Short term program are usually short term results. They usually will then convince you to go into a longer term program after you are there a few weeks–why not just start with one? Consistency is key in recovery. An average program is 6-9-12 months, depending on your child’s needs and the program.)
  • Statistics that show their success rate (I have yet to see any program or school have a third party–objective survey–perform a true statistical report on a program’s success. Success is an individual’s opinion. You have to do your own due diligence and call parent references.)

For more information about researching residential therapy and helpful tips, visit http://www.helpyourteens.com and don’t forget to review the list of questions for schools and programs so you can make an educated decision.

Teen Dating Violence and Abuse: Know the Facts

Nation’s leading experts confirm college dating violence is a much larger problem than anyone realizes

Loveisrespect.org, the National Partnership to End Dating Abuse, launches new initiative to combat dating violence on college campuses nationwide

A new survey reveals dating violence and abuse to be surprisingly more prevalent among college students than previously believed. Nearly half of dating college women (43%) report having ever experienced violent or abusive dating behaviors, and more than one in five (22%) report actual physical abuse, sexual abuse or threats of physical violence. Despite the high number of students experiencing these types of abuse, more than one-third of college students (38%) say they would not know how to get help on campus if they found themselves in an abusive relationship.

The survey, “Liz Claiborne Inc.’s Love Is Not Abuse 2011 College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll,” was conducted by Knowledge Networks to address the lack of data on dating violence and abuse among college students and to increase the understanding of this problem on college campuses nationwide.

According to dating violence expert, Dr. Karen Singleton, Director of Sexual Violence Response, a program of Columbia University Health Services, “This survey expands on earlier reports and reinforces the complexity of the issue.” Among the findings are:

·         Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) college women report having been a victim of an abusive dating relationship in her life.

·         57% of students who report having been in an abusive dating relationship indicate it occurred in college.

·         52% of college women report knowing a friend who has experienced violent and abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, digital, verbal or controlling abuse.

·         Further, 58% of students said they would not know how to help if they knew someone was a victim.

“The findings of this survey prove that colleges and universities need to provide a more comprehensive response and additional creative educational programs to address dating violence and abuse,” said Jane Randel, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Liz Claiborne Inc.

The survey findings were released today, during a forum to educate students about sexual assault prevention and survivor assistance at American University.

The full report of survey results can be found at www.loveisnotabuse.com.

National Dating Abuse Helpline and Break the Cycle Respond to the Urgent Need for Education

In direct response to these new findings, www.loveisrespect.org, a partnership between the National Dating Abuse Helpline and leading teen dating violence prevention organization, Break the Cycle, is launching an initiative to target college students with new, relevant resources to address the issue of dating abuse.

The expanded online content includes: Take Action (information on how students can get involved on their campus), Stay Safe (safety planning designed specifically for college students) and Help a Friend (information to assist bystanders). The survey shows that 57% of college students say it is difficult to identify dating abuse – substantive evidence of the need for increased education and awareness.

 

“It is our hope that with these targeted college resources, we can help increase knowledge about how students can combat the issue and ultimately, help prevent the prevalence of dating abuse and violence among students,” said President of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Dating Abuse Helpline, Katie-Ray Jones.

The resources are available, free online at www.loveisrespect.org.

In addition, Liz Claiborne Inc. has created a college dating violence curriculum called Love Is Not Abuse, designed to help students deal with dating violence and abuse on campus. The first college curriculum of its kind, Love Is Not Abuse educates students about the dangers and warning signs of dating violence, offers lessons specifically on abuse via technology and provides resources where college students can find help on campus.

The Love Is Not Abuse curriculum was created by a task force consisting of educators and domestic and sexual violence experts from Columbia University, George Mason University, the University of Kansas, Virginia Community College System, Northern Virginia Community College and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) following the May 2010 murder of University of Virginia student Yeardley Love.

The Love Is Not Abuse college curriculum is available online, free at www.loveisnotabuse.com/web/guest/curriculum.

After school and Your Daughter

Yes, schools are opening throughout our country and another academic year with the normal peer pressure and stress of being a teenager.

What are you doing after school? Many girls will be hitting a transitional point in their lives in a few weeks. Some will attend new schools, some will be away from home for the first time and others could be leaving their summer loves….

Although women have made gains in education and employment in the equal rights war, they’re still losing the self-esteem war. Girls’ self-esteem peaks when they are about 9 years old, and then takes a nosedive. Although the media, peers, and pop culture influence children, parents still hold more sway than they think when it comes to having an impact on a daughter’s developing self-esteem.

Girls are faced with an onslaught of influences daily- most of them not the ones we’d like. In fact, a national survey of girls’ use of social media released by Girl Scouts of the USA (Who’s That Girl: Self Image in the 21st Century, 2010) finds that girls with low self-esteem are more likely to be susceptible to negative experiences on social networking sites than are girls with high self-esteem.

As parents and mentors, we want to help our daughters develop a strong sense of self, learn about the benefits of a balanced diet and physical activity, develop healthy relationships, promote confidence and well-being among While having fun.

Wondering how to enhance your daughter’s school year? The Girl Scouts’ flourishing new leadership program Journeys is at the core of the nearly 100-year-old organization’s transformation and a key benefit of this latest offering is building a strong sense of self. Building self-esteem does not happen overnight, but research shows that one way to accomplish this is through the development of leadership skills and competencies.

For more information go to www.girscouts.org!

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Money Mistakes to Avoid During Holiday Times

It’s here – the holiday shopping explosion has started!  More stores are opening on Thanksgiving and even more open at midnight!  What happened to the 5:00am blowouts?  It starts earlier each year, just as the stores start earlier with their decorations.  We are just wrapping up our Labor Day picnics, while the stores are lighting up.

Before you start  your shopping campaign, it is important to understand the so-called sales, as well as the the items you really need – not buy on impulse.  With today’s  financial stress on many families, being aware of money mistakes is critical.  It is also an opportunity to talk to your teens about these money saving tips and mistakes to avoid.

Here’s a look at 12 holiday money mistakes to avoid:

1. Discount fixation. Retailers advertise deep discounts to get you to bite. But don’t take them at their word without comparing prices. A store’s sale price may reflect a markdown from the regular price, but there’s no guarantee the manufacturer’s suggested retail price isn’t actually lower. Think more about the item you’re buying.

“The stupidest thing people do is focus more on price than on quality,” says Dan de Grandpre, editor-in-chief of Dealnews.com. “Especially on Black Friday. You see really low prices because in many cases it’s cheap stuff.”

Avoid unfamiliar brands, be wary of the cheap version of name brands and don’t go crazy for bogus bargains on footwear, apparel, power tools or anything else, cautions Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at the NPD Group.

2. No budget. Skipping a holiday spending budget is a surefire way to overspend. Make a list that includes amounts for each person you want to buy a gift for and stick to it. Be sure to create an overall budget that factors in other holiday-related expenses. Without a plan, you’ll get caught up in the hype and go for the feel-good purchase.

The American Financial Services Association Education Foundation offers an online worksheet to help you create a holiday spending plan; visit www.afsaef.org/HolidaySpending.cfm. Besides planning your gift list, it helps you track spending on decorations, cards, travel and entertaining.

3. Debit dangers. Debit cards carry the advantage of taking money from your account and not saddling you with future payments. But using them on big items is risky because they don’t offer the purchase protections that credit cards do. For instance, if you fail to report any misuse of your bank account within two days, you may be liable for the first $500 billed to your debit card instead of the first $50.

If you have a problem with a purchase you made on a debit card, you may eventually get your money back. But it will be much more trouble and take longer than if a credit card had been used, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

4. Return policy missteps. Tossing away receipts can be costly. Their obvious value is for exchanges or returns, but there’s another plus too: If the price is lowered after you buy an item, a receipt should enable you to get a credit for the difference. Be aware that return policies are changing, however, and retailers are increasingly refusing some returns or giving gift cards for the amount in question. Certain stores are particularly diligent about tracking returns. If your credit card shows you return items too often, you may be stuck, according to de Grandpre. Also make sure you understand a website’s return policy if you’re shopping online.

5. Being low-tech. Smart phones are changing how we shop. Scores of consumers are following their favorite brands and retailers on social networking sites likes Twitter and Facebook, and retailers are taking full advantage. It’s much easier for businesses to launch and retract deals online where matching inventory with demand is less of a challenge. Coupons and last-minute offers can arrive as e-mail alerts or through social network accounts. Smart phone apps like Coupon Sherpa also provide in-the-moment help. It enables iPhone users to search coupons by category or store name, and find the nearest location. According to Deloitte Research, nearly one in five shoppers plans to use a cell phone during the shopping process.

6. Extended warranties. Here’s when to buy an extended warranty, says Greg Daugherty, executive editor of Consumer Reports: “Basically never.” The manufacturer’s warranty should protect you against any defect for up to a year, and the cost of protection beyond that generally isn’t worth it. Instead of wasting anywhere from tens to hundreds of dollars on an extended warranty, put some extra cash in your emergency fund to help cover possible repairs or replacements.

7. Black Friday blunders. Black Friday can be a shopper’s dream. But long lines and overzealous crowds can really wear you down and make it harder to spend wisely. So map out a plan in advance and read the fine print on early-morning doorbuster deals. At 5 a.m., you may have a slim chance of landing the lone 45-inch flat-screen TV offered at one store and much better odds for the less spectacular bargain down the road. Planning is important throughout the shopping season. Check the website of each store you plan to visit for the latest bargains, and make a list of what you want to buy from each store.

8. Gift card gaps. Give gift cards another look if you’ve spurned buying them because of fees and other issues. Thanks to recent rule changes, this is the first holiday season in which any gift card purchased cannot expire for at least five years. What’s more, inactivity and other fees are banned in the first year. Still, you should beware of buying gift cards through online auction sites or classified ads. They may be counterfeit and could have been obtained illegally.

9. Shipping costs. Free shipping is easier than ever to find. Giant retailers are dangling it as an inducement to spend. Wal-Mart, Target and J.C. Penney are among the retailers promoting free shipping programs. More than 1,000 merchants also are participating in Free Shipping Day (www.freeshippingday.com) on Dec. 17. Even if you don’t get free shipping, don’t wait too long or you’ll blow your budget to ship to out-of-town friends and family.

10. Store credit cards. Saving 20 percent on a single large purchase might sound worth it. But remember that retailers promote their store cards because they come out ahead on interest and late fees. Interest rates of more than 20 percent are quite common. That’s what you’ll find at the Gap and Macy’s, among many others. Signing up for a store’s credit card and then canceling after a short period, even if you pay it off on time, can harm your credit score. If you apply, be very selective.

11. Exposing your ID. Grab deals from the comfort of your living room but take precautions to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, which costs U.S. consumers more than $50 billion a year. Only do business with websites that are properly secure. A common indictor that it’s OK to enter confidential information is the presence of a padlock in the address bar on the checkout page. This means that the data you input will be properly encrypted for your protection.

12. Fear of negotiating. Prices frequently are negotiable in electronics, jewelry and department stores. Consumer Reports surveys on haggling have found that shoppers are successful more often than not when they ask for a better price. Just make the negotiations friendly. Daugherty suggests saying something like: “I’d like to buy this but the price is over my budget. Can you do any better?” Often the manager can if the clerk cannot. “You’re not going to embarrass yourself,” he says. “They’ve heard it before.” Along the same lines, ask the cashier if there’s a discount on your big item even if you don’t have a current coupon.

Source: CBS4

Read more.

What do you wish you had known at 13 years old?

As the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem unfolds, there is a powerful question that is being passed around and one that most people have a variety of answers for.  Whether you are 18 or 58 or even 78, the answers contain lessons from experience.

What do you wish you had known at 13 years old?

Here are some of the responses from the Dove Movement website as well as from Twitter:

  • Play more, worry less!
  • My father really was smart but at 13 I knew it all.
  • Enjoy being young/don’t wish to be older yet.
  • That the abuse I was suffering had nothing to do with how bad I was but how bad the perpetrator was.
  • That being myself was the best way to be ‘cool!’

These are only a few of the fantastic responses the Dove Movement has received.  For those in South Florida, one of the issues that is often heard, is about using sun-screen more generously.  In your teen years many are more concerned about their tan (self-image) than the damage the sun is doing to your skin.  In later years, as the skin starts to wrinkle, it can be a lesson we wish we had known (or listened to our parents).

The Dove Movement for Self-Esteem is being sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc. and Girls Scouts, Dove is marching out a campaign to help teen girls have a brighter future and step into their own skin by believing in themselves.

Read more.